Pomelo farmers learn to make cash from trash

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/21 February) – There’s cash from trash.

Pomelo growers in North Cotabato are expecting more income after they were taught that there’s money in the fruit’s peelings, which they previously just threw away.

In a recent training initiated by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Region 12, the pomelo growers learned how to turn the peelings into healthy capsule and tea.

At least 39 pomelo growers in the town of M’lang also expressed gratitude that they were armed with the knowledge to produce bottled pomelo juice and candies, among others.

Belonging to the Pomelo Growers Association in M’lang, the group is slated to receive funding from the local government unit to pursue an integrated pomelo fruit processing venture.

M’lang Mayor Joselito Piñol pledged to allocate P100,000 for the group as an initial capital following the food processing training conducted by the Industrial Technology and Development Institute (ITDI), an attached agency of the DOST.

During the training, the growers were also taught about good manufacturing practices to make their products safe and acceptable in both the domestic and international markets.

“We are amazed of these very promising DOST technologies. We can now be more profitable not only by selling fresh pomelo fruits but gaining much income from its peelings which we used to throw away,” Angel Porras, the association’s vice president, said.

Zenaida Hadji Raof Laidan, DOST-12 director, said that growers who will process the pomelo fruit stand to earn additional income with more consumers becoming health-conscious nowadays.

Pomelo, an exotic fruit known for its juicy flesh, is widely grown in North Cotabato. It is rich in vitamins and a good source of folic acid and potassium.

The fruit also has therapeutic values that help fight cancer, prevent osteoporosis, reduce high cholesterol, and aids digestion. It can also help lose weight, clear arterial deposits and fight infections.

Maria Elsa Falco, from the Food Processing Division of ITDI-DOST, served as the resource person during the training, with the first day focused on lectures and demonstration and the second day on the actual production by the participants.

During the return demonstration, the participants were able to produce pomelo juice concentrate, pomelo peel capsule and tea, and pomelo wine. The others were pomelo candy, chutney (condiment) and jam.

Laidan urged the pomelo growers to avail the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading (SETUP) program, the umbrella project of the DOST with a nationwide implementation to assist micro, small and medium enterprises become technologically competent.

Aside from training support, the other assistance includes product standardization thru laboratory testing and analysis, packaging and labeling, and consultancy services through the Consultancy For Agricultural and Manufacturing Improvement and Manufacturing Productivity Extension Program.

Laidan noted that these development initiatives could enhance the potentials of pomelo growers and MSMEs to penetrate local and international markets. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)